History of Germania

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Germania is an ancient land extending east of Rhine and north of the upper and middle Danube, covering the area of modern Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria. It stretched up to five hundred thousand square kilometers and was inhabited by about five million people. The name “Germania” was given by ancient Romans, who borrowed it from the Gauls, but its genesis is not exactly known. This area was mainly inhabited by Germanic tribes, that were never completely subordinated to the Roman Empire.

The Romans tried to control their neighbors on the right side of the river, crossing Rhine several times, but they never managed to catch these lands for a long time. The river became the conventional border of Rome in the east and no later emperor attempted to expand his empire there. These areas were inhabited by a large group of Indo-European people, which at the turn of the second and the first millennium BC were separated on the territory of the Jutland Peninsula, Schleswig-Holstein, the Danish and southern Scandinavian islands, from where it began its expansion north and south, that is Germania. They reached the Rhine river and the upper Danube. The Germanic strains that can be distinguished are mainly Ingweoni, Istewoni, Herminoni, Goths, Gepids and Vandals.

Depiction of Magna Germania

At the end of the second century BC, the first contacts of the Germanic people with the Romans began and in the first century BC they occupied the central part of Europe and the first battles to master the area between the Rhine and the Elbe began. The year 15 BC was not very favorable to the Germanians, because from that time their southern lands were occupied by Emperor Octavian Augustus. It changed in the 7th year BC, when Publius Quinctilius Varus was appointed the governor of Germania, who called Arminius as the commander of auxiliary forces – a young nobleman of Germanic origin, brought up on the land of the Romans. As can be guessed, years spent outside the homeland did not deprive him of patriotism. Having gained the trust of the superior, he brought the Roman army into a trap and led to his defeat in the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD.

Coat of arms of an emperor with Double-headed eagle

The Romans organized expeditions against Germans in the first and second century BC, however, they ended with failures. For this purpose, they used the policy of intrigue and various types of bribery. They managed only to impose their supremacy on the border tribes. Neighborhood of Rome, however, influenced the economic, social and cultural development of Germania, which manifested itself in taking over many achievements of ancient civilization.

Years 260-455 were manifested by a significant pressure from the Germanians and hence the weakening of Rome, among others by forcing them to settle subsequent tribes in the border areas and accept barbarians to the army. At the end of the 4th century, forced by the pressure of the Huns, Germans and Goths, they were forced to take new, successful attempts to break the Roman frontier. Intensive and extensive wandering of Germanic peoples led to their gradual settlement into the territory of the Roman Empire and the establishment of independent kingdoms, including Vandals in Africa, Saints and Visigoths in Spain, Franks and Burgundians in Gaul, Ostrogoths and Longobards in Italy and Angles, Saxons and Juts in Britain. In 410 AD Rome was conquered by the Visigoths and in 455 by the Vandals. It was undoubtedly the triumph of the Germans over the Romans and the sign of changing times.

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